It was 7:18 on a rainy Thursday evening. I was sitting in a U-Haul truck outside of a friends house getting ready to move some furniture and my phone rang. I looked at the screen and saw a number I didn’t recognize. My immediate reaction was:
“Another robocall, I wish they would stop.”
Then for some reason I decided to answer the call.
The voice on the other side said:
This is Officer (Name omitted) from the Hyattsville Police Department, I want to let you know your son is OK, he is awake, alert and responsive, can move all of his extremities and has a lot of scrapes and bruises. He was hit by a Jeep while riding his bicycle and is in the hospital emergency room for further evaluation. You might want to head over.
So I said thank you. Hung up the phone and got ready to tell my wife. Fortunately she was not in the truck with me and was in our car so she would better able to head over to the hospital.
So I stepped out of the car, took a deep breath and told her:
Luke got hit by a car on his way home from practice. He is in the hospital, but he is awake, alert and can move all of his extremities. He is banged up pretty well, but the police said he was doing OK.
She took the news like a trooper.
This is a call no parent ever wants to receive. I never understood the way my parents or wife would felt when they got the call that I was hit by a car and in the hospital, but now I know. It is truly a sinking feeling, there really aren’t words to describe the thoughts that flood you brain. But, the one thing that gave me comfort were the words of the Officer,
“He is awake, alert and responsive and can move all of his extremities”
Those were all positive indications of how our son was doing. It enabled me to relax a little bit.
So my wife and I talked about it for a moment or two and decided that she need to head to the hospital, and I would follow once I dropped the furniture off at the family who needed it. There was really nothing that the two of us could do and the families (refugees from the Middle East) really needed the furniture.
After I dropped off the furniture and had some time on my own to slow down and think, is when the seriousness of situation truly began to hit me. It was only a 15 minute drive from the apartments where I delivered the furniture to the hospital, but it seemed like it took an eternity to get there.
Then it took even longer to get through the ER waiting room and to be escorted to where Luke was in Trauma Room 2. I didn’t like the sound of that, “Trauma Room” were scary words for me to hear.
When I walked through the door, I saw my wife sitting in a chair and our son lying there eyes closed on the gurney.
Amazingly he didn’t look that bad. And I was told that the worst of his injuries was a broken ankle and in addition he had a mild concussion. My first thought was after being hit by a truck, escaping with “only” a broken ankle and a mild concussion seemed like a great outcome. As we could put together the pieces of the crash, it appeared that Luke was struck on the right side by a Jeep and launched through the air and landed on his left side. One of the deepest scrapes he had was just behind his left ear on his mastoid process. When I saw that I wondered how hard he had hit his head, since that area is normally pretty well protected by a helmet. A couple of days later when I saw his helmet, the answer was clear, he hit his head HARD! The helmet did an amazing job of protecting his skull and his brain.
Beside for his helmet being smashed, his bicycle was a twisted wreck as well. The impact has snapped the bike into 3 separate pieces. It broke at the fork, and the front triangle was snapped off of the rear triangle. I don’t believe that I have ever seen a bicycle so completely destroyed in a crash and I have seen my share of crashes.
How he got through the crash without seriously debilitating or life threatening injuries is where my wife and I have a disagreement with our son. Although we all believe that he is fortunate to be alive and without a traumatic brain injury, we differ in how and why that happened. We ascribe it to the grace of God and believe his time on earth was not up. He ascribes it to good luck and great helmet design. (I can’t disagree that the helmet design played a part, but God creates many smart people with many different skills including helmet designers). We may never come to agreement on this, but we are all thankful for the end result.
After a night in the hospital, and half of the next day we were discharged and able to head home. I wish I could say that the time in the hospital was uneventful, but that would be less than truthful. In a nutshell, the ER care was wonderful, but after that the care left a lot to be desired. One thing that I did do at the hospital was to meet with the on call Orthopedic surgeon. When we spoke I made it clear that my main concern was:
To ensure that whatever treatment was given, I want my son to have the greatest opportunity of regaining as close to 100% function in his ankle as possible since he is young, active and participated in a wide range of athletic activities.
He told me that the fracture would heal on it own and that we should follow up with him at his office in 10-14 days.
Fortunately, on Friday while we were killing time in the hospital room waiting to be discharged, I was able to get an appointment for the following day at MOST Orthopedics in Silver Spring, a group of doctors who have treated me and other family members and I trust their judgement.
When we got to the MOST Offices the next day, their view of the ankle injury was completely different.
To be continued . . . At the Surgeon